Mom's cognitive impairment and her spending habits.

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My mother is 84 has cognitive impairment with some early dementia. She lives by herself, doesn't have a lot of money so I try to keep her on a budget. I think she is sending money to my sister who has been taking money from her since she was 17 yrs. old, now 49. When I take her to the grocery store she is throwing in the cart anything she gets her hands on whether she needs it or not, by the time we get to the register she has spent $60 or more and this happens 2-3 times a week. Her fridge is stuffed to the rim and ends up throwing the food out because it expires. She calls her doctors office and orders pills for anything and everything and makes appointments, I take her to these appointments at least 3 times a month. She wants to be in control of everything and I understand that, we have arguments when I try to comment of these things. She complains to my siblings and gets each of us against the other. I do have POA, my older sister thinks because of that I have complete control of my mother, just the opposite. She lives out of state and doesn't hear or witness how my mother truly is from day to day. I feel I bend over backwards to make mom happy, do what ever I can, whatever she asks me to do only to get complained about to my siblings. Mom did go to my sister's home for a trial stay but she wanted her own apartment close to me, I don't get it, why? So I did what she asked and now my life is hell to say the least. Sometimes the stress from her and siblings are too much to handle. Why would she want to live close to me and constantly trash me to everyone and make me sound like I'm just a cab driver. Just wanted to vent. Anyone else out there with like situation?


rrsams23, yes I do know how you feel. My mother did not have dementia and has since passed. But she did exactly what your mother is doing. She demanded I take care of her then verbally abused me, was uncooperative, she was flat out mean, etc. My sister, the golden child, didn't live locally but that didn't matter to mom, she got a total pass on any caregiving, did not have participate as mom said it was always my duty. I have to add that our family dysfunction had lasted a lifetime.
When mom started spending like there was no tomorrow, I was shocked and talked to her. Unfortunately, our story had a very sad ending.
I can't advise you about the dementia issue you're dealing with. My dad had it but he never acted like that. All I can say is I hope you can get get a handle on your mother. She sounds very headstrong. Can you persuade her to let you put her on a budget? I just want to caution you to be very careful with her. Some elders can accuse you of wrongdoing, become violent when they feel they're being pushed into something, you name it. It can be hurtful at the very least and turn ugly also. Only you know what your mom is capable of.
If your mom spends all of her money, are you going to have to be responsible for her? If so you definitely need to protect yourself. This is what I tried to get across to my mother but she wouldn't listen. Dealing with her was a nightmare!
For starters, how about taking Mom to the grocery store once a week? If she needs something fresh (lettuce, milk, bread) in the middle of the week, just bring it to her. You are in charge of when your "taxi" is available.
I agree with jeannegibbs - take her to the store once a week ONLY. She can make a list of stuff she needs - just like everyone else - and this SHOULD help limit her spending a little. In my opinion, you really need to set limits and boundaries as to how much of your time is spent helping your mother or you're going to burn-out faster. If she doesn't have Alz/Dementia and/or major cognitive problems, she has the right to spend, spend, spend her money however she wants - it is, after all, her money. But if she runs out of money, then she'll just have to wait until she gets some more money before goes to the grocery store, etc. That doesn't mean you need to step in and buy things for her - unless it was a life saving thing. But if she runs out of bread, milk, etc., it sounds like she will survive just fine on what she already has. She'd just have to be creative and it may not be exactly what she wants to do - but it by no means is your fault. And if she doesn't listen to your advice, that's her right. But you don't have to be there to deal with her bad decisions either. That doesn't mean you're not being a good daughter-just that you need to keep your sanity too. It's very hard being a caregiver and is very taxing on the brain and body no matter how much you do. Just a thought. Good luck!!
My mother was a major food buyer/hoarder. When I got here, food was stacked to the ceiling in the kitchen and the refrigerator and freezers (big and small) were overrunning. She bought and bought, spending $500 on a simple shopping trip. It was so bad that we had things that dated back to 1990 in the freezer and even earlier in the cabinets. We had 10-20 of every household thing, e.g. air fresheners and Clorox. It took me a week to clean the hoard of expired food in the house.

After I got here, I would take her shopping. It was a major battle. It was like shopping with a kid who wants everything they see. Ultimately I had to quit taking her with me. The truth was that she was no longer mature enough to shop and I couldn't be fighting with her every time we went to the store, telling her that we don't need this and put that back. I told her she couldn't go grocery shopping with me anymore. She didn't really mind, though she does complain to others about how mean I was to her in stores.

The nice thing was the grocery bill went from over $1200 to $500 a month. She was that out of control. The first 2-3 months were even less as we worked through the hoard of food available.

I would prefer to take my mother shopping with me to let her keep some control and normalcy. In my case, it wasn't possible to do. I don't know how your mother is. If she can abide by a list, you can make a form that she can check what she needs before you head to the store. Then you'll know what to pick up. If she can't abide by a list and fights at you, you may have to do what I did and tell her she can't go anymore. Hope it goes well.

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